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Veterinary Nurse Consults: Why do them & how to make them a success

Posted in Guest Blogger @ Apr 22nd 2021 - By Melissa Giles, Vet Nurse Diary
Veterinary Nurse Consults Why Do Them And How To Make Them A Success

Are you doing veterinary nurse consults in your practice?

Vet Nurse Consults hold an important place in vet hospitals as they not only benefit clients and patients, but they also allow vet nurses to utilise their skills and knowledge to educate clients.

Clients will sometimes tend to speak more openly with nurses than they would their vet if they feel less in a rush to leave, and often this results in additional issues and concerns being picked up and allows us to deal with them or refer them to the Vet if necessary.

If structured correctly, nurse consults can provide additional support to consulting vets and ease some of the pressure allowing them to concentrate on their more complex cases.

Vet Nurse Consults you say?

Some of the areas that are perfect for vet nurse consults include:

  • Nail clipping
  • Anal gland expression
  • Arthritis follow-on injections
  • Allergy follow-on injections
  • Routine suture removals
  • Heartworm injections
  • Weight loss and nutrition clinics
  • Microchipping
  • Behaviour clinics (when appropriate)
  • New puppy/kitten discussions
  • Surgical admits
  • Routine surgical discharge
  • Administration and discussion of parasite control
  • Socialisation discussions
  • Routine post-operative checks
  • Laser therapy sessions
  • Triaging
  • Bandage care and changes
  • Dental check-ups

So why should you consider introducing nurse consults to your practice?

There are so many benefits of vet nurse consults for your practice, your clients, patients and your team.

Here are seven of reasons....

1. Encourages owner compliance

2. Builds client trust in nurses

3. Increases client knowledge and education

4. Allows nurses to utilise their skills and knowledge

5. Encourages clients to bring their pets in for more frequent consults

6. Allows nurse to bond with their patients

7. Allows consulting vets to see more patients throughout the day

How to make your veterinary nurse consults a success

Always prepare for incoming consultations by ensuring you have the necessary equipment and familiarising yourself with your patients history.

1. If possible, set up a dedicated nurse consulting room 

2. Each day, allocate a dedicated consulting nurse 

3. Schedule blocks of time where nurse consults will be available for your clients to book

4. Train your staff to book the set times consistently

5. Ensure your receptions staff are prepared for the additional clients

Top tips on how to do a successful nurse consult

Visual Examination - use your senses

It's important during the initial visual examination to make use of all your senses.

Take note of your patient's demeanour. Are they bright & happy, or depressed and dull?

Watch their body language and posture. How is your patient walking? Are they comfortable sitting, standing and lying down?

Note their coat colour and quality and look for any wounds or scabbing.

Watch their respiration. Is it normal? Laboured? Are they panting?

Physical examination - use your tools

When undertaking a physical examination, always work from head to tail.


Check that your patient's ears are clean, free of redness. discharge and odour.

Watch for a head tilt, head shaking or twitching.

Check their eyes are clear and free from swelling, redness and discharge. Check for normal pupils.

Ensure their face is not swollen or drooping and check for nasal or lip cracking.

Check mucous membrane colour and note down capillary refill time.

Check for the presence of dental disease, deciduous or broken teeth, red or painful gums and any malocclusions.

Check that their submandibular lymph nodes are not enlarged.

Check for patches of clumped or missing fur.

Check for the presence of any external parasites.


Check your patient's respiration rate as well as the quality. Are they panting? Are they tachypneic, dyspneic or experiencing laboured breathing?

Listen for chest sounds (or lack of sounds where there should be)

Check heart rate and rhythm. Ensure each beat generates a phemoral pulse and note quality and pulse rate.

Check for visible wounds and lacerations.

Check for any bruising or unusual skin colour or pigmentation.

Note down any lumps or growths. Be specific with their number, size and location.

Check for any red, inflamed or irritated skin.

Check hydration status.

Check for evidence of external parasites.

If male, note any penile discharge, its colour, consistency and amount. If not neutered, check both testes are present and the same size.

If female, check for swelling or discharge from the vulva. Note any details and check with owner when last oestrus occurred.

Check for overgrown nails and dew claws.

Check for hardened or overgrown paw pads.


Ensure your patient can move their tail freely and there is no swelling present

Check for any kinking or deformities.

Check for any red, irritated skin, hair loss, wounds or scabbing.

Check anal glands if indicated and note colour, consistency and amount of material expressed.

Ensure anus is clear of discharge or swelling.

Take their temperature.

Other important notes to make

  • Patient diet
  • Dietary requirements
  • Allergies
  • Lifestyle
  • Exercise
  • Microchip details
  • Vaccination status
  • Parasite control use
  • Current medications or supplement use
  • Coat care
  • Behavioural issues
  • Temperament concerns
  • Reaction to tableting and/or injections
  • Their favourite in-clinic treats!
  • Any other relevant details the owner gives you.

It's time to get started!

Nurse consults not only offer an excellent opportunity for vet nurses to bond with clients and for clients to bond with your practice, but they also offer a number of opportunities for vet nurses to make even better use of their knowledge and expertise. As a bonus, they may also generate more income for your practice from preventative medication or further testing from issues that may become apparent during the consults. So for these reasons (and more!) now is the time to give vet nursing consultations a go in your veterinary practice.

If you have any questions about how you can make vet nursing consults a success in your practice, ask Mel in the comments section below

About Mel

Mel was born in South Africa and always knew she needed to work with animals one day. She volunteered at a local Vet clinic as soon as she was able and fell even more in love with the profession. 

When she was 16 her family moved halfway across the world to Australia where she completed her schooling and immediately (2 weeks after her final exams) signed on to a clinic as a trainee Vet Nurse and began her nursing studies!

She hasn't stopped learning since and is incredibly excited by the future of Vet Nursing and all the things she has yet to learn and share! 

Follow Mel on Instagram by clicking HERE: vetnursediary_mel



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